How were the drainage systems of Indus valley civilization forgotten during medieval times in India?

By Sunil Kumar

Almost all history is open to interpretation and questioning; due to the fact that nobody is sure as to what happened exactly; and anybody who claims to be a 100% certain is either bluffing or living in a fool’s paradise.

That being said; evidence of ancient discoveries, carbon-dating, memoirs etc are reasonable indications of what actually happened. India; as you may know is a very ancient country with multiple kingdoms, eras and cross-cultural influences interspersed in the sands of time; probably more than any other nation on the planet.

Michel Danino’s wonderful book “The Lost River: On The Trails of the River Sarasvati” apart from giving an account of the Indus Valley Civilization; the Saraswati and ancient geography; also mentions that various coinage systems; and ways of measurement survived till medieval times and later; thus ensuring a continuity of ideas and thought.

That being said; there is very little information on why the Indus Valley civilization suddenly disappeared; giving rise to many conspiracy theories and scientific speculation; including climate change. See this link,

Climate change wiped out one of the world’s first, great civilisations more than 4,000 years ago

The period between the fall of the Indus Valley civilization and what historians refer to as Vedic times; about 1000 BC is a sort of Indian “Dark Ages”; where not a lot of information is available. Between that and medieval times is another 2300 years.

Contemporary India has even forgotten some superlative engineering techniques from nearly a 100 years back; so 2300 years is a very long time. Also; nearly all Indus Valley sites were lying dead and forgotten under desert sands for thousands of years; until uncovered by Indian and British archeologists.

Location of Harappa in the Indus Valley and ex...

Location of Harappa in the Indus Valley and extent of Indus Valley Civilization (green). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Drainage system ideas were assimilated into latter-day kingdoms and civilizations; and their original form was later morphed into something more convenient for the place and time. We had many great stepwells constructed in Rajasthan and Gujarat; until British colonization claimed another victim. Also they were deemed unhygienic and breeding grounds for diseases. Independent India has been even worse; due to the accumulation of garbage, refuse etc.

stepwell | architecture

India’s Forgotten Stepwells

So; I believe it’s the long time gap; no accurate and extensive record-keeping, destruction of many books during numerous invasions, morphing into different forms and ideas; as well as the general public consciousness that led to Indus-valley era drainage techniques being forgotten.


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